The head of the East Mississippi Development Corporation is taking part in a big marketing venture. Wade Jones is currently in Texas as part of an effort to attract tenants for some prime pieces of vacant property. He says the purpose for the trip is to meet with site consultants. According to Jones, topping the priority list is to fill the first piece of the puzzle for the Old Value Fair Mall project in Meridian.
"We're going to focus on call centers, call centers like NEW Corp., which is now Asurion in Meridian, which employs 350 people."
With hopes of creating hundreds of jobs by attracting a call center to the site, Jones says the next part of the development plan for the old mall is multi-faceted.
"Andy Weiner, who owns the property, has indicated that this is going to be a mixed use facility. So, that might include a new movie theater with stadium seats, a grocery store, a sports facility that I think everyone wants, a crafts facility and these are bigger boxes. So, we're excited; this takes time."
Jones says redeveloping the old Value Fair Mall property is a long range project which could be two years in the making. However, once it's done he's projecting that the area surrounding the facility will undergo a major change.
"I think to develop the property and get a return on investment that you'll have to use all of the property, not just what you see off of I-20 at 22nd Avenue, but also the property that includes the old Hudson's and the restaurants between Sowashee Creek and I-20."
Jones says this means that some businesses will be affected, and could have to relocate. However, at this point that is yet to be determined.
The Value Fair Mall property has been primarily vacant since the mall closed in 1997. It's owned by Rockstep Capital out of Houston, Texas, and it's currently one of the company's four projects in Mississippi.
Aside from the Value Fair Mall property, Wade Jones says while in Dallas he also plans to meet with consultants about the old Handy Hardware building which has been vacant since the business closed in December 2012.